I like the time before the Christmas holidays, the illuminations, the Christmas markets, the mulled wine, and the cupcakes. Visiting Venice, especially during the Winter Carnival period was something I've always wanted to do. My girlfriend knew it well, since it was she who gift me this trip at Christmas! In February on a certain Valentine's Day evening, my lover offered me a trip to Venice. It was one of my best gifts, and without a doubt one of my best trips.
Last year, I celebrated Christmas in Venice and I returned to the magic of Christmas, with the feeling that everything is possible. Winter in my opinion is the best season to discover an intimate and mysterious Venice. Driven by its tourists, it's calle is often deserted. The atmosphere becomes magical and Venice offers itself to us. Each bridge, each alley, each campo can be explored, touching each stone as it pleases.
This is, in my opinion, the best time to discover the soul of the city, which does not let itself be seen at first sight but is hidden in its folds. A thick mist often bathes the Serenissima with a mysterious atmosphere and makes it even more fascinating. At night, the light scattered by the lampposts is dimmed by the fog and Corto Maltese is expected to emerge at any moment.
Moreover, as usual, I am unable to edit photos and I end up with 60 photos in instagram that I love. Italy has not stopped seducing me lately!
Day 1 in Venice
Getting up at 4 am to go to the airport stings! The plane flies and we fly above the clouds around 8 am. After landing in the Marco Polo airport it is time to take the vaporetto to go to Venice. We booked in a super Airbnb a little out of the center, but in a quiet and atypical neighborhood. We have time to nibble a cookie and walk the streets to rave about the mysterious beauty of the city, and take photos.
Then, we head towards the Doge's Palace. We have no time to waste, as we have a reservation for the secret itinerary that takes us inside the Palace, in the recesses where prisoners were locked up. The tour of the secret itineraries takes us to see the jail and several rooms related to justice in Venice and its espionage service.
We walk in to learn everything about the escape of the famous Casanova, known worldwide for his amorous escapades rather than for his diplomatic work. The guide is a lively, exciting and theatrical woman. The guided tour of an hour and a quarter passes too quickly!
We finish our tour at the point where the visit to the Palace begins, which we do on our own. It is an authentic ode to luxury and opulence, with numerous works of art of incalculable value and a magnificently worked decoration. I was very struck by the ceilings and their rich paintings, it is a real joy to see this palace, and imagine the enormous wealth that Venice achieved by being the port of connection between East and West.
We arrived at the Bridge of Sighs, which is closed although it has windows overlooking the canal. We cross the Rio di Palazzo joining the Doge's Palace with the old prison of the Inquisition.
We eat pasta at a pizza restaurant and then we go to the Galleria Dell'accademia. It is a museum with classical paintings that, I admit, makes me yawn. I'm much more fond of more contemporary and less religious paintings. On leaving, we go to Chiesa di San Barnaba. I absolutely wanted to see this church in Venice. Why? Because it's the church that appears in the third installment of Indiana Jones movies!
Shop windows are beautiful. They are full of shimmering colors and a multitude of delicacies. We observe with pleasure and amusement the Venetians busy with the last preparations and Christmas shopping. Wrapped in their cloak, they have their hands full of packets and panettone or pandoro, the traditional desserts of the end of year festivities in Italy.
We fall back to childhood at the outdoor ice rink installed on the vast Campo San Polo. At dusk, we stroll through the alleys to enjoy the illuminations that enchant the city. I marvel constantly. The piazza San Marco is not outdone either. The vaults of the procuratie are lit by small lights which only reinforces the charm of the piazza. Next to the basilica, the piazzetta dei leoncini is adorned with a large illuminated Christmas tree.
At the turn of an alley, we fall unexpectedly on churches whose door is surmounted by a shooting star. These are the ones that house a preschool, a nursery. Italians are very attached to the tradition of nurseries. It is St. Francis of Assisi who created in 1223 the first living nativity scene in Greccio.
After these long walks, we find peace after eating in a restaurant near the apartment. Before we prepare for our New Year's Eve meal, we have a drink near the Rialto Market. We enjoy a spritz with cicchetti. We eat scallops and pasta with vegetables followed by a tiramisu and wine glasses downright exquisite. We finish soon enough, to go to one of the most beautiful musical experiences of my life of the Musica A Palazzo.
Each act is represented in 3 rooms of the palace and the spectators are immersed in the opera. Musicians and singers are next to us! The experience is simply amazing. The scenery, the staging, the singing, the orchestra, everything is done to make us live the story close by. After this, we go to the midnight mass at Saint Mark's Basilica.
The atmosphere inside the basilica is full of spirituality, love and harmony. Piazza San Marco at the end of Mass is unreal and magical. Everything is so beautiful and serene. We then take the traghetto to return to the other side where our apartment is located.
Day 2 in Venice
We get up with a big blue sky. The sun shines brightly and makes the canals sparkle. In winter, Venice is not always covered with a veil of mist. She also experiences beautiful sunny days. The day starts very well with a breakfast in the sun on the terrace of a cafe next to the Arsenale.
I take the opportunity to take pictures while I discover the joys of Frittelle, a sweet donut stuffed with cream. It is traditional to eat during the carnival. It is true that Venetian pastries are to die for! In broad daylight I find that Venice is a kind of Disneyland for adults.
We take the vaporetto to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a prestigious institution. Opposite is the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum. We discover the fascinating life of this genius of architecture, drawing, anatomy and engineering. We see reproductions of these inventions. The museum is very nice and we have a good time.
The cold is very intense, so we take the time to warm up in a bar and enjoy a cappuccino. For the rest, we go to the market and the Rialto Bridge. There is a crowd! People flock around the shops and on the deck to take pictures. It must be said that the view is superb and the weather perfect.
We eat in a tiny Osteria stuck in an alley where a few regulars come. We have spinach and ricotta lasagne and go! But where are we going to eat an ice cream? Where we can customize our ice cream with lots of toppings and flavors.
Then we head to the Campo Ghetto district where we stroll quietly, even taking a break in a beautiful park. Oh yes, and before that we tried to go to the Prada Foundation, but we did not succeed. Instead, we enter two other museums.
On the way back, we go through Ospedale to see lots of cats gathered in ruins! The opportunity is too good not to take some pictures of my favorite animals. To finish the day, we have dinner in a beautiful restaurant at the edge of the Grand Canal.
Day 3 in Venice
In the morning we eat zaletti bought the day before in pasticceria from the neighborhood. We had not thought that the Airbnb would tell us to leave so early (10 am) and we would have our luggage along all day, as our flight was at 4:30. We get up early and find a luggage drop. As I hurt my hand, I have to find a pharmacy. In spite of this, we have time to land at the famous, oldest and most beautiful cafe in Venice. We are not disappointed.
As soon as we arrive, we feast on the richly decorated interior and at a table, costumed princesses take their royal brunch. There are all nationalities here! Besides, our waiter is adorable. We ask her which languages she understands, and she answers that she speaks of course Italian, French, English, and German. We take the Carnival special menu as well as coffees to die for.
Then we visit the Saint Mark's Basilica. We see splendid views of the square and Campanile, which we do not have time to enter. There are so many people. It is difficult to find the vaporetto for the island of Murano from Saint Mark's square! We jump on the boat that starts immediately! I felt for a minute like Indiana Jones.
The Murano island is beautiful. We tour the small shops of the center to find a beautiful glass rose and then we enter the glass museum. We pay the entry fee! The exposed glass works are sublime. We visit the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato which is beautiful outside and inside except that inside, we realize that there is a funeral. So we go quickly not to disturb the ceremony.
Our vaporetto for the return to Venice is already there, and we do not have time to go see the glassblowers. We do not take the risk of missing the flight. Ironically, when we arrive at Piazza San Marco, we take (much too much) time to buy Venetian masks and take the last pictures of costumes. We buy the ticket for the vaporetto to the airport to realize that it leaves only 35 minutes later.
We go to find the taxis next door. It's our only chance not to be late! We take it, and we arrive at the airport on time. There, we laugh at the situation that becomes grotesque. In the screen, we see the plane is 1 hour late! We might as well have had time to see the glassblowers and take the vaporetto. But what we remember from this beautiful trip is the magic of Venice at night.